Agenda item


Report of the Strategic Director – Transformation.


The hearing was held in the absence of any objectors.


The Tree Preservation Order Review Officer (Mark Symonds) presented the case, explaining that the two Oak trees concerned (T1 and T2) had originally been covered by TPO 1990 No. 6.  The ongoing TPO review had identified them as being of high amenity value and therefore TPO 2008 No. 89 had been served on Mr Diffey of 18 Hillfields and Mr Rollo of 20 Hillfields, Toftwood, Dereham in November 2008.   However, it transpired that this order had been incorrectly served, so it had been re-made to take into account the correct owner, Dereham Town Council.


The trees were confirmed to be mature, with a considerable life expectancy and to be in a generally satisfactory condition.  They formed part of the remnants of an old hedgerow and were considered to be a feature of the local landscape on the edge of developed land in Dereham.


Mr Symonds said that some remedial work had been done on T2 to lift the crown which should help to reduce concern about the impact of leaf fall and overshadowing of the immediate properties.  Photographic evidence was provided showing the trees in full, as well as bare, leaf.   He confirmed that he had received no evidence concerning damage to property or drainage systems.  Both trees met the criteria of the Council’s adopted TPO scoring system (details of which were attached to the Agenda documents) and had been found to fall within the suitability range. 


He stated that he was fully qualified to assess the health of the trees with respect to any insurance queries.  (He holds the LANTRA Awards Professional Tree Inspection qualification.)  He then confirmed that there was minor evidence of the presence of a fungi in T1, adding that the tree posed no imminent threat and was unlikely to fail in a storm.   There was good, sound, annual growth, which easily countered the amount of damaged wood at this stage.


There was some general discussion about whether or not root damage could, of itself, affect the issue of a TPO, and it was confirmed that if a tree’s root system was proven to produce major structural damage or subsidence to a property, then a TPO was less likely to be awarded since there would be concern about future liability.   


In the case, as with T1 and T2, where trees were in place before any housing development, then the property developers would have been aware of them and should have taken into account the species and future size of each tree at an early stage in the process.  Owners of the land which trees stand on remain responsible for ensuring that the trees are safe and will not cause damage to any property.


Trees T1 and T2 were considered to be about 60 years’ old.


In the absence of the two objectors, the Committee considered the objections as contained in the letters from Mr Rollo and Mr Diffey dated 10th and 19th November respectively, as well as a joint letter dated 16th December 2008 (copies of which were attached to the Agenda).  It was accepted that trees T1 and T2 would produce some restriction in light to the two properties concerned.  There was discussion about the safety of oaks in general.  Mr Symonds stated that oaks were considered to be quite resilient to decay and unlikely to shed large branches since their wood tended to crumble away in smaller pieces, rather than get to the point of suddenly losing whole limbs.  When asked if the lifting of the crown might have affected the tree’s structure, bearing in mind the presence of the fungal infection, Mr Symonds stressed that this was only a minor infection, with small areas of decay.  The smaller the area of actual damage, then the quicker new cells would cover the wound.   He therefore confirmed that the tree surgery would not have increased the risk of damage to the tree, or its stability.


In summary, it was concluded that:-


  • there was no immediate danger from the trees, which were considered to be sound; and


  • there was no evidence that they were causing subsidence.


Accordingly, it was




1)     Tree Preservation Order 2008  No. 89 be confirmed in respect of the  two oak trees; and


2)  Dereham Town Council be held liable if the continued maintenance of the two oak trees (as requested) was not carried out.  

Supporting documents: